It was October 4th, 2021, and all through the internet, people flocked to Twitter, Reddit, and Tumblr, because Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were down.
It’s been interesting to see the mixed reactions to those big social media sites going down. Many people were suddenly bored out of their minds and seeking entertainment elsewhere. Political mud-slinging was put on hold. And businesses that relied on those pages were in a panic and trying to find alternative ways to reach their customers.
I don’t use Instagram and WhatsApp, so I can only speak to Facebook. What used to be a social media site for me has now become a place mainly for me to get writing/marketing/sales information. There are numerous writing groups that I’m subscribed to, and that’s mainly what I check on FB these days. Sure, I still have some friends and family on FB that I keep up with, but most I just silently cheer on when they post a life update or something fun they did. Most of my friends don’t post anymore–they just can’t bring themselves to delete their profiles. Sunk cost fallacy, I guess. My wife and I are in a similar boat. Neither of us post anymore.
I need a personal profile to have an author page, and I need an author page to run FB ads. Unfortunately, for all the disfunction they’ve brought to society, FB is still a cost-effective way for indie authors to find their readers. If it weren’t for being an author, I would probably be rid of FB too.
Rather than go into a post about values or politics, I want to focus on the importance of an author having direct communication with their fans. This same angle applies to businesses and customers in general.
The groups I’m part of all swear by having their own author website and their own mailing list. If Facebook was dissolved tomorrow, I would still have this website and I would still have my mailing list. People can follow me on Amazon, but I can’t see how many followers I have, and for all intents and purposes, Amazon owns that list. Social media companies and retailers last a while, sure, but they won’t last forever. What happens when a fan wants to keep up with me but my profile or my product page disappears with the retailer?
At least I’ve got my website and my mailing list. If a fan wants to get in contact with me, they can–no matter what happens to FB or Amazon or any other site.
It was convenient having everybody on FB. Friends, acquaintances, authors, movie stars, local stores, etc, but I think we can all agree it won’t last forever. Sure, it’s a pain having to go to individual websites for things and having to wait a whole week for shipping that’s not Prime, but maybe we’re better off for it. As an author, I know I’m better off for it.
But what’s the alternative? Crap loads of spam email instead of social media notifications?
This didn’t start off as a plug for my mailing list, but I’m going to bring it up here anyway. I know as a human being, I hate getting spammed by email after email. If I sign up for something, it’s because I have a genuine interest in the retailer or the artist. There has to be a balance, otherwise signing up for more than a few email lists would be a trash-sentence for my inbox.
That’s why my newsletter is limited to one a month–and maybe one more if there’s an impromptu sale. Expect some updates on writing and publishing, and that’s about it! If you want to know more, you can always read this blog! Because guess what? I own both of them!
If you’re interested, here’s the newsletter link.